What is a Service Catalog?
Similar to any sales catalog that displays all the items offered in a store, your Service Catalog should be a complete, up-to-date list of services performed within your organization. When customers want to request a product and/or service, your Service Catalog should be their one-stop-shop.
As the administrator, you will build the Service Catalog to meet the specific needs of your organization. Keep in mind the following objectives:
- Provide your end-users with a single source of consistent information for communicating available services, including all associated details, interfaces, and dependencies.
- Ensure that the Service Catalog is easily accessible to users, but implement permissions to allow only relevant users to access specific templates. Templates, or Service Requests, are pre-defined, and they provide clarity on what services are offered, how those services are offered, and expected time frames for delivery of the services.
- Integrate with any application that provides an HTTP access point (with username and password authentication) to automate processes that were previously manual. See more information about Application Integration.
Helping IT Teams benefit from having defined workflows when they provide services--workflows that are based on previous cases and building a consistent collection of information.
Service Catalog access:
With the goal of always maintaining ease and comfort to your agents and end users, SWSD provides the ability to access your Service Catalog via the platform and end users can initiate a change directly from the Service Portal.
Benefits of your Service Catalog
- Saves valuable time
- Streamlines workflows
- Increases control
- Reduces operational costs
- Reduces mistakes
- Simplifies processes for end users
- Improves customer satisfaction
Before you begin, make sure you can answer the following questions:
- Which important services would I like to automate?
- Who needs to be involved in this process?
- What will be the stages of deployment?
- Process: What information do I need to obtain from the end user?
- Workflow: Which approvals are needed for the completion of a process? Are custom fields beneficial to ensuring all relevant details are obtained?
As a final thought, consider who will use your Service Catalog:
- New users, such as:
- Administrators, who will need detailed guidelines on how to build a service catalog.
- Users, who will need need directions on how to navigate the service catalog to locate the service request relevant to their needs.
- Seasoned users, who are familiar with the process and want quick and convenient navigation to the specific service they seek.
Building your Service Catalog Item
- Take a moment to consider all service requests (break fix Incidents and/or service desk requests) your users may need regularly.
- Think outside-the-box and consider any additional requests that may come up due to an unexpected incident or change.
- Notice the ability to add images and include as many custom fields to forms as necessary to quickly and accurately obtain the relevant details. This helps in limiting any back-and-forth, time consuming correspondence just to obtain details that could have been required in a predefined template.
- Include Dependent Drop-downs in your template to aid in data collection.
Dependent Drop-down functionality can lead to an array of variable types. It provides increased flexibility through the use of a drop-down that leads to another drop-down, free-text box, check box, or other variable that best fit your needs.
Based upon the devices you offer, you can build a variable allowing the requester to choose between a laptop, desktop, or tablet. If the user chooses a laptop, a new drop-down variable appears presenting the laptop options provided by your organization (Dell, MAC, etc.). Drop-downs ensure a fast request workflow process.
Prerequisites for enabling the use of dependent drop-downs
To ensure smooth continuity of services SolarWinds suggests you:
- Clone all existing catalog items for which you wish to add dependent drop-downs.
- Create changes in the copy.
- Update and test.
- If testing is successful, delete the original template to avoid future use.
Example 1: New Device Request (Editing an existing template)
- Select the New Device Request catalog item.
- Click the Actions button and click Clone.
A window appears titled New Service Catalog Item with the details pre-populated from the original template.
- Make the desired changes.
- Click Create.
Example 2: New Device Request (Including Dependent Drop-downs in a template)
- Navigate to the Service Desk and select Service Catalog.
- Create (if not yet offered in the index page) or select (from the index page) New Device Request.
- In the Process Fields tab click to + Add Field.
- Notice all fields are mandatory.
First define your dependent variables: Name, Field Type, and Values.
- Click Save.
- Create a new field to include the dependent variables created.It is important to select the values from the drop-down menu.
- Click Save.
When a user creates a request for a New Device, he will be prompted to provide all details.
Combining Variable Types in the Dependent Drop-down
You can also combine different variables in your drop-down to give you a more ideal form configuration. For example, your Marketing Manager could choose the type of device desired, even if it is not included in the list of devices supported by your company. To allow this:
Build a free-text variable, for example: Special Device Request.
Go to the initial dependent drop-down and click Add Value.
Select the new free-text variable you created.
Setting Up Layered Dependent Drop-downs
To create a streamlined experience for your requesters, you can layer dependent drop-downs, thus expanding the form based on the selections made by the requester. You can build as many layers as you wish. For example, first the user would select the type of device wanted:
Based upon his first selection, the user would then be given the option to pick from another list. In this example, if he chose Laptop from the first drop-down menu, the user would see the list of laptop devices your company offers:
Based upon the laptop device selected by the user, he could select add-ons, such as:
How to incorporate with your workflow processes
You are able to build conditional workflow processes based on both parent and child drop-down values. For example, if someone chooses an Apple device, you may want to send tasks specifically to the team(s) managing those devices. To achieve this, you can group devices together in a Condition Set and build the specific workflow steps based upon the requester’s selections.
Editing Dependent Drop-downs
When editing a variable that is a Dependent Drop-down, or links to a Dependent Drop-down, you must remove all dependencies prior to making edits.
After editing your variables, build your dependencies back into your variable form.
Visualize the process from ticket creation to Satisfaction Survey
Before you begin, it can help you to visualize the process.
Begin creation of a new Service Catalog Item
Navigate to Service Desk, and then select Service Catalog.
SWSD takes you to the Catalog Items index page.
Select the plus sign icon to create a New Service Catalog Item. Review the example below:
General Details Fields
All details should be requested within the Service Request form. You do not want to waste your valuable time with back-and-forth correspondence between requester and agent. The form should include all relevant data you would need to collect to complete the request.
For example, if the site is not included in the form, delivery of the a new computer could be delayed. Including the site prompts the user to provide it when he creates the ticket. If it is not included, valuable time can be wasted while the agent requests the location and waits for the requester to respond.
If all needed details are required by the form and entered by the requester, and all processes are predefined, the result is a seamless request process.
Below the general details fields there are several tabs:
The Process tab. Includes all tasks and approvals required from time of request to approval. This can also include alternative steps needed if not approved.
Directly from this tab you can make many updates to the process such as:
SolarWinds recommends review of all fields below to familiarize yourself with condition sets that are most relevant to your organization.
Task. Update/Add a task to the process, including the name, description, and person assigned to complete task.
Group. Update/Add a group to act as a container for multiple steps to occur in a concurrent fashion.
Approval. Update/Add approval steps to capture the needed authorization for a specific Change.
Condition Sets. Apply a condition to any record field (including custom fields) in a workflow. By applying a condition you enhance customization of your workflows and increase automation of processes to ensure overall efficiency.
An onboarding workflow training process for all employees, Except for employees in the Spain office. (The Spain office provides this training in Spanish, therefore must follow a different workflow).
A workflow in which a task is added to update a specific software If the laptop model Contains the string MacBook.
When you have multiple conditions you are able to streamline processes by selecting the specific condition type needed for this process. For example: By selecting to customize the Operator between conditions you can select, 1 and (2 or 3) or any version necessary.The Details tab. Provides clear visibility on items such as:
- Site and Department, to be included for reporting purposes.
- Price, for easy analysis of budget.
- Duration, to provide visibility of process times and delivery.
In this tab, notice the ability to drag and drop the fields in the variable columns, in addition to the ability to set default values.
The image above reflects the ability to easily arrange the order of the Process Fields by dragging and dropping them as needed, as well as to set default values.
Process Integration. Used to integrate with external systems.
More information is available on using Application Integration within your workflow process.
For example, you can update any record field in the workflow, including system fields such as name and/or CC. You can select from previously cached entries.
Send Notifications (available in Professional and Enterprise Plans). This is your automation tool to provide status updates of all processes to relevant stakeholders.
For example, for laptop requests you can set up an automatic notification:
- To be sent after a new laptop request has been denied. The notification can state denial with reasons why or steps on how to follow up for more information.
- To be sent after a new laptop request has been approved. The notification can inform recipients that the laptop request has been approved and the ship date is XX.XX.XXXX.
See Send Notifications for more information on how to set up email templates.After a field is updated, it is not available for additional updates within the same action. To make additional changes, exit and re-enter Update Record. Also, Update Record does not include variables (also known as process fields).
- The Audit tab. Contains a predefined process within the organization. May vary across departments.
The Service Catalog Index Page
As you expand your Service Catalog and create additional CIs, you can view the repository on your Service Catalog index page. As with most of your SWSD pages, this page if fully customizable to meet your needs. The default view includes a list of All Items. See List View for more information on filtering, editing, and customizing your view.
After you have customized your view, there are additional options found on the top right of your screen:
- The Search icon allows you to enter key words into the search bar
- The Add icon allows you to create to a new Service Catalog Item. As described above, it is imperative to include as much detail as possible in this in the form.
- The Help icon reveals additional information related to the current index page.
Visibility based on user role
The role a user is assigned in your SWSD influences visibility of tickets. Users set up as:
- Administrator or Service Agent User can see the states of all tickets.
- Service Task User or Requester can see only the tasks that have been approved.
- Agent can create a CI (Catalog Item) and determine the state of the ticket (for example, Draft, Internal, or Approved).
By selecting any CI in your view, you can open the Details window.
After making relevant adjustments, click Add Update Record to save your changes.
Understanding how a workflow affects a process
Now that you have finalized your workflow, it is important to understand how the process unfolds. You can select between:
- Pre-processing: When a Change or Service Request is submitted, the entire workflow is processed, with each step in the workflow evaluated based on the value of conditions and fields before the workflow begins.
- Just-in-Time processing: This option evaluates each step of the workflow based on the value of conditions and fields when these steps are reached. This allows you to base workflow decisions on current value rather than values of conditions and fields prior to the workflow beginning. As a result, you can build more dynamic and realistic workflows that replicate your IT and business processes.
The Audit tab provides an account of all activities related to this CI.
A Service Request is any request submitted by an end user to the IT service desk with the goal of initiating a service process. When a Service Requests is received, the agent assigned is not starting from zero. The solution to standard requests are based on predefined workflows that vary in complexity. Whether simple or complex, workflows need to be standardized with a proven history to deliver services within predefined SLAs.
Objectives to consider:
- As an administrator (or anyone else creating Service Catalog Items) it is important to be pro-active and consider all the needs of the organization across the teams utilizing SWSD. The Service Request is a standard service that includes pre-defined approvals and qualification processes, and clearly provides the requester with the detailed procedure he needs to follow.
Of course some Service Requests may require additional and unexpected steps that couldn’t be account for when your original template was created. For example, if someone who is part of the approval process is away or a new situation arises that requires an ad-hoc solution.When an approver is away the approver's status should be set to out of office.
For this reason SolarWinds provides the ability to add Ad-Hoc Tasks to open Service Requests. (See the Task tab on the Service Request page for Ad-Hoc Tasks.)
- All end-users, both internal and external, benefit from a comprehensive Service Catalog that serves as a medium for communication. For example:
- Request for information, such as information on cloud storage limits.
- Request for access, access to a document or network.
- Request a resource, such as new phone, laptop, software, or other device.
Insert Variable Data
You can insert variable data into the title of a requested service. The data submitted by your end users would then determine the title of the Service Request, making it easier for your agents to monitor and fulfill requests. For example, when creating or editing an existing service catalog item, notice the link to Add custom title. Here you can create a service request title using variable data:
- Determine the most appropriate title content (you can use both free text and variable data in the title).
- Click Add Variable to select the desired variables.Only Text and Drop-down Variables are available for use.
- Review your title and click Save.
By including the employee's name in the ticket title, you can make it easier to differentiate between Service Requests when multiple people are being onboarded simultaneously.
Ticket Routing Automation
By introducing variable data to the title, you can build keyword automation rules to ensure the most accurate ticket routing. For example, for a new computer request form, you can auto-route a ticket to the proper team based on the type of device selected (Mac vs Windows) by the user.